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Composting

North Carolina’s solid waste policy reflects the state’s desire to reduce, reuse and recycle before turning to disposal as a management option for solid waste. To that end, the North Carolina General Assembly established a hierarchy of preferred alternatives to using landfills. The first option, after reduction, reuse and recycling, is composting.

For more information contact: Donna Wilson, environmental engineer, at (919) 707-8255 or donna.wilson@ncdenr.gov; or Sherri Stanley, Permitting Branch Head, at (919) 707-8235 or sherri.stanley@ncdenr.gov.

Small Compost Facility Exemptions

Effective November 1, 2019, North Carolina readopted new Compost Rules that expand on the types of operations eligible for either complete exemption to the Rules or exemptions from permitting requirements, provided they meet specific conditions.   Rules pertaining to these exemptions are in 15A NCAC 13B .1402 (f) and (g).  

There are three separate variations for exempt operations in the Compost Rules: Fully Exempt; Exempt with Notification; and Exempt from Permitting. 

  • Fully Exempt Operations [Rule .1402(f) and Rule .1409(b)(1)].
    • Operations which are fully exempt from the Compost Rules include backyard composting; backyard vermicomposting; farming and silvicultural operations for compost and for vermicomposting under specified conditions; and persons receiving no more than 30 cubic yards of leaves from an offsite source on annual basis.   
  • Exempt from Permitting with Notification [Rule .1402(g)(1)].
    • Operations classified as Small Type 1 facilities (aka, Yard Waste Notification sites) require notification and annual reporting.  Information on Yard Waste Notification requirements and Section contacts for these types of sites can be found at [Yard Waste Notification webpage]; and
  • Exempt from Permitting Requirements [Rule .1402(g)(2) and Rule .1409(b)(2)].
    • The types of operations eligible for this exemption were expanded in the updated Compost Rules. These compost or vermicomposting operations are not required to obtain a permit or approval from the Section and are not required to notify the Section in order to operate. If these operations meet the site conditions and operation requirements in the rule, then the site will be considered in compliance with the Section rules. Note that these operations are also subject to compliance inspections by the Section.

Compost Exemption Guidance

Composting Links

N.C. Compost Council (NCCC)

Solid Waste Association of America (SWANA)

U.S. Composting Council